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After 12 years, Rev. James Perkl is transferred to Burnsville’s Mary, Mother of the Church

by Jane Lightbourn • Staff writer

For the Rev. Jim Perkl, it has always been about being called to the life of Jesus Christ and serving the church.

After 12 years as the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish pastor, Perkl has been called to another church — Mary, Mother of the Church in Burnsville. The call, or transfer, is effective July 1.

Priests within the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis are usually transferred every six years. They can also ask for another six years after the first term. That is what Perkl did in Hastings.

Archbishop John Nienstedt contacted Perkl last year indicated the date for the transfer. The “where” would come later.

“Then he said that my assignment would be to Burnsville – Mary, Mother of the Church,” said Perkl. ”I was really happy.”

There were several reasons for his satisfaction in remaining in the area. Perkl had previously served at St. John Neumann in Eagan and had maintained relationships and friendships with people there. He also teaches at the St. Paul Seminary. It also keeps him close to his Hastings friends.

“The friendships and support – I have found that in all my assignments,” he said.

That support has been there through joys and sadness, both professionally and personally, Perkl said. During his first assignment, his father died and he had the parish support. Then, while serving here, his mother died.

”I buried my mom when I was here,” he said. “The parish has always been there.”

When Perkl came to Seton Church, it was an active church. It still is, he said.

“It has become more active,” he said, “And it is a teaching parish and that continues. That’s the great thing. You can’t beat life in the parish. There is so much life here and it is a good place.”

During Perkl’s years, the Archdiocese, and Seton, initiated a partnership with the Kitui Diocese in Africa and became very active in forming the Total Life Care Center in Hastings. The parish support has been very strong.

Parish support also led to the construction of the preschool addition at the church and the involvement of the National Evangelical Team (NET) program for three years.

Perkl’s writing, designing and then painting talents also created icons, which are for sale at the parish, and in turn, support ongoing projects in the Kitui. One icon is on display at the St. Paul Seminary at the University of St. Thomas. Another was commissioned and was presented to Cardinal James Michael Harvey in Rome.

At Mary, Mother of the Church, Perkl will be the only pastor. Its current priest has taken a medical retirement.

As he looks back on his years at Seton Church and the Hastings community, Perkl said they have been satisfying ones – they have richly enhanced his faith and family.

“There has been the depths of joy and sorrow here,” he said. “I have been blessed and I anticipate similar things in the future.

“I was called into the priesthood; where He is, it is good. I am at peace.”

A special “Thank You” from the parish community will be held at the weekend Masses June 28 and 29.